Had the pleasure of giving a lecture on care of the dying at the California NP conference in Newport Beach, CA today. It was a three hour workshop on the CARES Tool. I provided a background on the Tool and tried to focus on educating how the body shuts down during the dying process so the NP can help family members differentiate between a normal dying process and suffering, and the importance of being a patient advocate.
It went well. My favorite part was the opportunity to have the participants share what they hoped to learn and their backgrounds. We all bring so much to what we do. It is so important to be self aware and to really embrace self-care. We truly cannot help others if we can't take care of ourselves. We are immersed in caring for the sickest and will confront deep sadness and loss on a regular basis. Nurses must accept the reality of burn out, professional grief, and "ride the dragon" so we can embrace the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. Our greatest skill is our ability to share our humanity and compassion and accept with this comes the need to remain vulnerable. Care of the dying is a gift, and I believe as health care providers we get so much more from our interactions with the dying and their families than we can ever give.
It was a pleasure meeting fellow NPs interested in improving their care of the dying. I hope to hear more from them in the future.